Drones Drones Drones

dji 3 standardSo, I made the jump and invested in a drone for photography and video fun. The gold standard out there seems to be the DJI Phantom series. The Phantom 3 comes in three models: The Standard, Advanced, and Professional (Compare the models here). My knee-jerk reaction was, of course, to buy the top end model and load it up with a GoPro camera. Thankfully, there was an email thread at work where folks were talking about drones and recommending to get a more basic model for your first unit, as you WILL crash it.

I’m glad that I read this thread. I invested in the “Standard” model Phantom 3 with a built-in camera and gimbal.  The camera shoots 2.7K (more than 1080p HD) at f/2.8 with a fixed focus (like a GoPro) and can shoot images at 12 megapixels.

I read up on all of the beginner items, unboxed the Phantom 3 Standard, charged the battery, linked my iPhone, downloaded the DJI Go app, and updated the firmware on the drone. I thought I was all ready to go.

Little RalphieI had read that you want a nice open area with no trees, powerlines, etc, so, for my maiden flight, I drove over to a soccer field in McAllister Park here in San Antonio. I powered up the controller, linked the phone and powered up the drone. Like Ralphie excitedly decoding the “Little Orphan Annie” message in the movie “A Christmas Story”, I excitedly flipped the auto launch control and…. whaaa whaaa. There was an error message that the IMU needed to be calibrated. OK, a bit of quick googling and I figured this out. NOW, I’m REALLY ready for my flight. Whaa whaaaaaaa. I get a message that I am in a no fly zone. I guess I am about a mile from the local international airport. Damn.

So, I go home and give it a try in my back yard. I mean, how hard can it be? Ya, crashed it in 30 seconds! I was able to pick it up and it resumed flight (in the video) and luckily I avoided the pool and was able to land it. Whew. A few scuffs and grass stains and a few parts of the plastic body popped out of place, but luckily no permanent damage. I then got the hang of things and made a few successful flights around the property, avoiding the trees, pool, house, and power lines.

[one_half padding=”0 20px 0 0″]So far, here are some reasons what I am very happy with my purchase:

  • Nearly real-time video to my iPhone
  • Very responsive controls
  • Very powerful motors and good range on the remote so far
  • Excellent image quality from the video
  • “Follow me” mode
  • Beginner flight mode
  • I will be out less $$ if I crash it beyond repair
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Some things that make me wish I had the “Professional” model:

  • Standard has a Panasonic camera that shoots 30FPS at full HD and . Professionals has a Sony 4k camera that can shoot 60 FPS for those buttery smooth pans and slow-mo videos
  • Standard does not have a filter ring to allow for removable ND filters.
  • The out-of-the-box documentation could be better

Overall, I’m very pleased with the purchase and I have already ordered an extra battery and prop/gimbal guards.

3 thoughts on “Drones Drones Drones

  • January 26, 2016 at 7:38 am

    Wow. Very cool. You need to bring it to our pool parties this summer.

    • January 26, 2016 at 10:23 am

      Thanks! You bet. Or if you want some aerial videos of your property, let me know and I’ll bring it out.


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